Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.
Reading 1 - Deu 28:2-6
"All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if
you obey the LORD your God. You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the
country. The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and
the young of your livestock -- the calves of your herds and the lambs of your
flocks. Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed. You will be
blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out." (Deu 28:2-6).
"It was part of the promise under the national covenant of
Israel, that God would bless them in basket and store if they were obedient; and
that disobedience would bring blasting and poor harvest. It was part of an
arrangement of national life, where material prosperity, expressed in an
agricultural community in the terms of the produce of the land and of cattle,
was the blessing of their Divine Ruler. We might be drawn to entirely wrong
conclusions if we determined a man's standing in divine favor in these days of
industrial activity, by the vast accumulations of wealth beyond contemplation
for others than rulers in simpler ages. We would also be misled in following the
prevailing temper of the present day in regarding all laws of nature as
explicable by natural science, and being in no way subject to divine rule. While
it would be a mistake to relate all natural happenings, good harvests, wet
seasons, earthquakes and storms, to the divine will, to exclude them from God's
operations if He so desired would be a greater mistake" (John Carter, "Prophets
After the Exile" 205).
Reading 2 - Song 8:6
"Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your
arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy [or 'ardor'] unyielding as the
grave" (Song 8:6).
The "seal" signifies the impression made by a signet ring. In
the ancient Near East, the signet ring was used to denote ownership and was thus
very valuable (Jer 22:24; Hag 2:23). Seals were used to make a stamp impression
to identify the object as the property of the seal's owner. Seals were made of
semi-precious stone upon which was engraved a unique design and an inscription,
for example, "l' mlk" = "belonging to king" The impression could be placed upon
wet clay of a jar or on a writing tablet by rolling the seal across the clay.
Because it was a valuable possession its owner would take careful precautions
not to lose it and would keep it close to him at all times. Seals were often
hung from bracelets or necklaces.
The Bride's figurative request draws on two actions associated
with the seal. First, a seal was rolled on wet clay in order to leave its
impression, thus identifying the person to whom the object belonged -- so she
wanted to be impressed on his heart. Second, a seal was attached to one's arm in
order to keep it safe -- so she was asking that her Lover keep her in a close
relationship, which would never be lost.
The sepulchre that was "sealed" shut by men (Mat 27:66, the
same word in LXX) was "sealed" open by an angel (Mat 28:2)! This is the seal of
our salvation, and the seal of our Bridegroom's love for us!
Also, the wounds our Saviour received, in hands and feet and
side, may serve him too -- even now in heaven -- as the "seals" by which he
remembers us, whom he loved even unto death. They are like the twelve stones
upon the breastpiece of the High Priest (Exo 28:15-21), which represented the
twelve tribes of Israel, and which he took with him into the Most Holy Place,
into the very presence of God.
Zion, or Jerusalem, said about her God, "The LORD has forsaken
me, the Lord has forgotten me" (Isa 49:14).
But the LORD responded, "Can a mother forget the baby at her
breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget,
I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands" (Isa
And the glorified Son of God so speaks to us, the "New
Jerusalem": 'Never think that I have forgotten you. I have indelible seals, upon
my hands and in my side. Though healed now, they are ever with me -- and it is
as though your names, each and every one of you, are engraved upon my very
person. My love for you is stronger than death, my passion more unyielding than
the grave! Never fear: you are mine. I WILL REMEMBER YOU!'
Reading 3 - Acts 26:10
"And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the authority of
the chief priests I put many of the saints in prison, and when they were put to
death, I cast my vote against them" (Acts 26:10).
Literally, "I paid down a pebble (psephon) against them." Paul
is referring to the black pebble of guilt or condemnation, in contrast to the
white pebble of innocence or acquittal -- which is referred to in Rev
"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the
churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will
also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who
"It was the custom, in the days of the Apostles, to vote in
judicial trials with either a white or black pebble; the former for acquittal
and the latter for condemnation, From this ancient custom there has arisen the
saying that one has been 'black-balled'... A white stone was also the symbol of
victory in the Grecian games. Thus, in the Apocalypse the white stone represents
victory and acquittal at the Judgement Seat" (HP Mansfield, "Apocalypse